After Stephen Yaxley Lennon, who styles himself Tommy Robinson, was given an indefinite ban by Facebook yesterday, to go with the bans he has already been awarded by Twitter and PayPal, there was general relief among those who wished it had happened rather earlier. But someone out there on the right, in that strange world of extreme floor crossing that is beyond human comprehension, was not a happy bunny.
To no surprise, that someone was Brendan O’Neill of Spiked, so named because it should have been long ago. Bren saw the dark hand of a new evil, that of “Corporate Censorship”, at work. “Only a fool would cheer the banning of Tommy Robinson by Facebook and Instagram. It doesn’t matter if you like or loathe him. It doesn’t matter if you think he’s a searing critic of the divisive logic in the politics of diversity or Luton’s very own Oswald Mosley in Jack Wills clobber” he frothed, seemingly unaware why Lennon was banned.
But do go on. “The point is that his expulsion from social media confirms that corporate censorship is out of control. It speaks to a new kind of tyranny: the tyranny of unaccountable capitalist oligarchs in Silicon Valley getting to decide who is allowed to speak in the new public square that is the internet”. No it doesn’t. It really doesn’t.
It speaks to those repeatedly and blatantly busting the T&Cs getting kicked off social media platforms as a result. But O’Neill is not interested in such factual trivia. Instead, he claimed Lennon was too important to be banned. “He had one million followers. So we are not talking about some bedroom-bound imbecile who says mad things to 27 fellow losers on Twitter, but about a public figure, someone who commands an audience and enjoys political influence”. Public figure my arse. Self promoting thug, more like.
But then the mask slips, and O’Neill’s real gripe is revealed. It’s the Scary Muslims™ to blame! “There are many disturbing things about this latest act of Silicon Valley silencing of an awkward public voice. The first is the apparent involvement of Mohammed Shafiq, CEO of the Ramadhan Foundation … the same Mohammed Shafiq who once attended an event with Hassan Haseeb ur Rehman, a Pakistani cleric who praised the murder in 2011 of the governor of Punjab, Salman Taseer, by a radical Islamist”. Shared a platform!
And he’d been talking to people at Facebook! “All of which raises a question: why is Facebook reportedly taking advice from someone like that? Does it also meet with campaigning Christians and jot down which critics of Christ they would like to see removed from its website?” All of a sudden, free speech campaigner O’Neill dislikes free speech.
Thus the double standards in which Spiked will gladly indulge when it comes to frightening the readers about Islam. Stephen Lennon should be allowed to stay on Facebook and spread hatred, but Mohammed Shafiq should not be allowed the freedom of speech and association enjoyed by everyone else. Can you smell hypocrisy?
Lennon broke Facebook’s T&Cs persistently. So he was kicked off the platform. O’Neill whining about him having lots of followers is irrelevant: breaking of the rules should be dealt with consistently. So it has. Lennon and his followers have no complaint about that.
Brendan O’Neill has been reduced to nothing more than a far-right shill. Sad, really.
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